A car’s steering and suspension parts should be checked at least once a year. In previous articles, we already covered the track control arm and silent block. Here, we explain how you know if the tie rod ends, or axial joints need to be replaced. Ready? Let’s go.
The symptoms of worn tie rod ends
In first instance, the owner of the car will notice something’s off when the car deviates from a straight line or when he experiences vibrations on the steering wheel. Obviously – or hopefully – the customer will come knocking on your door for a thorough check-up of the car. Up to you to detect worn tie rod ends, or axial joints.
Worn tie rod end or axial joints
At the start of the check, lift the car until the wheels come fully off the ground. Grasp the wheel on the right and left side while executing a tilting movement. This way you check whether there is play on the tie rod ends. In case of play, the suspension and steering of the car do not react accurately while driving. If you feel little resistance from the steering box when performing this movement, there is play.
Onto the visual inspection, for which you lift the car higher. First, you check the condition of the dustcover of the tie rod ends. If the rubber material of the dustcover shows wear or cracks, the part needs to be replaced. You can grasp the part and try to move it up and down. If the housing moves up while there is no movement in the pin – stuck in the wheel bearing house – there is play. If there is no play on the tie rod end, you should check whether this is also the case for the axial joint. To do this, move the tie rod end the same way you did before. If there is no play on the tie rod end, there will be play on the axial joint.
In a final step, you should also check the steering rack gaiter. This must be in good condition to protect the axial joint.